True Beauty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 14, 2012
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
When most people think of the word “beautiful,” they think of models and movie stars. I admit I used to be one of them. I used to wish I was skinnier, had fuller lips, or eyes that were a vivid shade of blue, green, or hazel. My friends and I would talk for hours about how we wanted to be tall, beautiful women with airbrushed skin like models. Now my perspective has drastically changed.

The day that I discovered what true beauty really is, I was with my parents and little brothers at McDonald's. We decided to sit in the Playplace, so my brothers could play with all the other kids while we waited for our food. Since Mickey D's only has tables with four chairs, I'm always the one to get booted to a nearby table to sit by myself. Usually, I'm a little peeved, but this time, it worked out perfectly.

As I apathetically surveyed the other customers, I was suddenly captivated by my subject. She was sitting at a table two tables away and I could look at her without her knowing. Now, I wasn't being creepy-stalker about it. A glance here, a look there, pretending to look out the window.

The half-dozen children (all about the same age) were what originally caught my attention – that and the rapid-fire Spanish I've missed since living in southern Arizona.

As I continued to watch the mother with her children, I became more and more in awe of them. The mother had an ageless quality about her. I could tell that in her youth she had been pretty, not the traditional beautiful, but a warm, inviting one. Her skin was a light brown, smooth and soft-looking, a little at odds with the fine lines around her eyes. Her thick dark-brown hair, glossy and graying slightly, was pulled back in a ponytail with little wisps falling about her face. She wore casual clothes, but none of this was why she was so beautiful and captivating to me.

When she smiled, it was like all the good things in the world came into being. It was full of love and light and happiness – a simple knowing that all was right with the world. When her children spoke to her, even the two-year old, she listened intently as if nothing else in the world mattered more than hearing about the game they had just played. The two-year old smeared ice cream all over her face, and the mother just kissed her nose, ice cream and all. She didn't scold, yell, or get mad when her daughter got ice cream on her nice clothes. The love and warmth this woman generated completely shook my world and all my notions of beauty. She generated warmth that rivaled the sun, and her children were little planets revolving around her.

She made me realize that the models in the magazines are really distorted. Their airbrushed photos are not beautiful. They are cold, empty husks of women who may starve and work themselves to death to maintain an image we have created. The only reason we want to be like them, ultimately, is that we can't be, no matter how hard we try.

The truly beautiful women are the ones like this Mexican mother. Instead of wishing to be like the skeletal model, I now wish to be like that mother – full of light and happiness. She makes a difference in her children's lives. Instead of making them feel bad about themselves, she makes them feel great about everything. That is true beauty: to make a positive difference in another's life through warmth, caring, and attentiveness. Unknowingly, she has done that, not only for her kids, but the lonely, (now) disillusioned teenage girl, who had the good fortune to sit near her in McDonald's one afternoon and share her warmth.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Moniba said...
Jan. 30, 2014 at 3:19 am
This is a lovely observation and you've managed to write it so well! :) I'm glad you found out about true beauty.
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 2, 2013 at 10:49 am
This is really well-written. I loved everything about this piece, especially how you captured her emotions.
Matraca This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Thanks so much! The words just kinda flowed when I saw her
Site Feedback